Benjamin 'Cheeky Ben' Yates
"‘I’m not being paid enough for back-end-of-beyond digs and toasters that explode with your breakfast still inside,’ a voice declared behind them. Emma turned towards the sound and was immediately met with a pair of beady green eyes, sparkling roguishly at her from across the room...It was a handsome, improbable face, with a modelesque jawline, sharp cheekbones and thin lips that quickly twisted from a grin to a wry pout...‘You know a pessimist is never disappointed, babe.’ he narrowed his eyes , arching one eyebrow and flattening the other in an almost impossible expression...He was honest, blunt and dry, but there was a genuine warmth to him which made Emma smile."
- from my work-in-progress novel 'The Girl With The Sky Umbrella'
Off stage, Ben is every bit as cheeky, lovely and funny as he was as Mungojerrie! The first time I met Ben was in Llandudno, but I didn't get the chance to speak to him properly until Canterbury. The cast had NO room for manoeuvre on the stage steps in Canterbury, let me tell you! I was sitting on the end of the front row with my feet tucked all the way in, and I still got trodden on a couple of times, not that I minded of course, I knew when I needed to get out of the way properly too! So, I thought nothing of it when Cheeky Ben came down the steps in the finale and suddenly put out a hand to steady himself, using my head as a bannister to prevent him falling. But at stage door that night, when he came out and saw me he came straight towards me and gave me a big hug saying "I'M SO SORRY! I NEARLY BROKE YOUR NECK!" and I laughed and hugged him back and told him it was no problem - after all, I would rather be used as a human bannister than see a Jellicle come to harm! But his sweetness in apologizing stayed with me and gave me a major, major soft spot for him, especially when Dawn recounted later that he'd also mentioned "Nearly killing" someone in the audience to her, and she'd told him it was me so it was fine! From then on, I just had an affection for Ben and a soft spot for him - because really, how anyone can be that funny, that sweet and that talented is a marvel and his smile is just a smile you can't ignore! It helped, of course, that Ben was always the first to come up and chat when I was waiting at stage door - somehow we just always seemed to run into each other by chance, be it in the middle of the Bullring in Birmingham, or when I was waiting for Joel Morris to appear after a matinee, and so Ben and I would often find ourselves both waiting in the same place for one reason or another, and he's so fun and easy to talk to, I just enjoy his company so much. The same happened again when I went up to Blackpool to see him in Tommy - of all the people to spot as I was walking back to get ready for the show, OF COURSE it was going to be Ben, in the right place at the right time yet again! He really secured his place in the ranks of My Jellicles that day - as if he hadn't already! - taking so much time out to talk to me both before and after the show and leaving me walking away beaming.
"But, my God, it's so beautiful when the boy smiles."
― Anna Nalick